Next year, Belgium will be the central guest during the Business of Design Week in Hongkong. This means that our country will provide content and speakers for up to one third of the overall program. The selection can be seen as an acknowledgement of Belgium's importance in the global world of creativity and gives us the chance to show the best we have to offer.
The annual Business of Design week (BoDW) combines design, innovation and brands in exhibitions, seminars and a trade fair, which is visited by 100.000 people from all over the world. Every year BoCW organizer Hong Kong Design Center (HKDC) chooses a partner country. After two years of preparations Belgium will be the partner country in 2013 under the name of 'Belgian Spirit'.
On top of the overall program, 'Belgian Spirit' will also organise its own activities, including workshops about fashion, design, architecture and other creative and innovative aspects of our country.
The three Belgian regions, Brussels, Flanders and Wallonia, are working together on this project. Several organisations are involved such as AWEX - Wallonia Foreign Trade and Investment Agency, Brussels Invest & Export, FIT - Flanders Investment & Trade, Design Flanders, Design Platform Flanders, Flanders DC, Flanders Fashion Institute, Flemish Architecture Institute, MAD Brussels (Centre for Fashion and Design), Wallonie-Bruxelles Design/Mode and Wallonie-Bruxelles Architectures.
The Picasso of concrete, the concrete poet or the traditionalist for tomorrow. Just to name some of the nicknames that were given to Oscar Niemeyer, the world famous Brazilian architect who died on Wednesday 5th of December at the age of 104 in Rio de Janeiro.
As the world oldest active architect, Niemeyer worked almost till his dead – even in his bed in the hospital. On his 103th birthday, on the 15th of December 2010, he inaugurated his building for the Oscar Niemeyer Foundation in Niteroi. The isle on the other side of the Guanabara bay in Rio de Janeiro also hosts a theatre and museum by Niemeyer, which is regarded as his best work and often compared to a UFO.
After his graduation as an engineer Niemeyer did his internship in the offices of Lucio Costa (1935) and Le Corbusier (1936). Together with Costa and Affonso Eduardo Reidy Niemeyer created the ministry of Education and Health in Rio de Janeiro. Le Corbusier was advising the team.
Although Niemeyer is surely influenced by the famous French-Swiss architect, he developed a more liberated style in concrete. For this he was inspired by the Brazilian baroque, the exuberant mentality of the Brazilians and… the round curves of women.
It’s just this the Beleza team has discovered in the Copan-building in São Paulo, which is home to almost 1200 apartments. It’s more or less builded in the same period of Le Corbusier’s Unité d’habitation in Marseille, but the building by Niemeyer has a jaunty touch.
In his book ‘The curves of time’ (1998) he wrote: “Right angles don’t attract me. Nor straight, hard and inflexible lines created by man. What attracts me are free and sensual curves. The curves we find in mountains, in the waves of the sea, in the body of the woman we love."
Niemeyer’s name will forever be linked to Brasilia, the futuristic looking capital of Brazil since 1960. To open up the vast interior of Brazil president Juscelino Kubitschek decided to move the capital from Rio to Brasilia. Lucio Costa was hired to develop the layout, which he modelled after an aeroplane. Niemeyer was asked to design most of the important buildings, such as the cabinet ministries, the monumental dome of the national museum and the huge cathedral, conceived as a flower of concrete.
The city, which was constructed in only four year, is till today the subject of many architectural discussions. Art critic Robert Hughes even called it a “utopian horror”, because the city is too monumental and not made on a human scale. Up to Niemeyer, the city is conceived as “a work of art that should cause the emotion of newness. Maybe you don’t like it, but it’s unique.”
Outside of Brazil Niemeyer builded the headquarters of the United Nations in New York, the Serpentine gallery summer pavilion in Hyde Park, the cultural centre Le Vulcan in Le Havre and the Communist party headquarters in Paris. He builded this during his stay in France, where he went after the 1964 coup and the following 21 years military dictatorship in Brazil.
With Niemeyer the world has lost one of the most important architects of the 20th century, who helped to shape our vision of the future. He received the most prestigious architectural prices, such as the Pritzker Prize (1988) and the gold medal of the Royal Institute of British Architects (1998). And he influenced many architects, including Zaha Hadid, Tadao Ando and Christian de Portzamprac.
Niemeyer died in the Botafogo hospital in Rio de Janeiro, the city where he was born in 1907. In the Brazilian city Curitiba you can find the Museu Oscar Niemeyer about his work.
In 2010, the Belgian artist Ann Veronica Janssens made a work about Oscar Niemeyer. You can see the video here.
“One of the most exciting collaborations the company has ever seen”, that’s how Paulo Pedo, the CEO of Melissa, describes the collaboration with fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld.
The Brazilian shoe brand, that is known for its colourful plastic jelly shoes, and the iconic fashion designer from Chanel and Fendi will work together for the next four seasons. Lagerfeld will create capsule collections for Melissa, combining his luxury style and the Brazilian fun.
The first pair can be expected in March 2013, just in time for spring. The three other pairs will be available in store during the next three seasons. Pier Paolo Righi, CEO of Karl Lagerfeld, says that he’s very satisfied for this collaboration aimed to design iconic and fun fashion products that many woman in the world will happily wear.
Before Lagerfeld Melissa worked together with Vivienne Westwood, Jean Paul Gaultier, Gareth Pugh and model Alessandra Ambrosio to design shoes. Also to design and decorate the store at Rua Oscar Freire the Brazilian brand is cooperating with creative people from all over the world.
When the Beleza team was visiting São Paulo in October 2012, Julie Verhoeven was presenting her project in that space. The main entrance was covered with her beautiful and colourful fashion illustrations of mainly women’s faces, and in the back she presented some video works.
Verhoeven also created a capsule collection of white shoes with colourful spots, and an illustration inside. The shoes were launched during the Brazilian fashion week in September 2012.